Witness: Jika Joe blaze leaves several residents destitute

As is typical this newspaper report about a shack fire says nothing about (1) the denial by the state of formal access to electricity by shack dwellers, (2) the criminalisation of attempts, even when well organised and non-commodified, to arrange safe informal connections and (3) the misuse of the real problem of shack fires to legitimate the eradication and forced removal agenda.


Jika Joe blaze leaves several residents destitute
18 May 2010
Thami Magubane

A FIRE gutted homes at the Jika Joe informal settlement in the early
hours of yesterday morning, leaving one person with burn wounds, 25
others destitute and at least nine informal housing structures razed to
the ground.

The fire allegedly started at about 4?am when one of the residents fell
asleep with his candle lit. The candle fell to the floor and burned down
the informal structures in the top part of the settlement in Masukwane

By yesterday morning, many of the residents were busy cleaning up, but
there was little to salvage as most of their belongings had been burned
to ashes. A handful of people managed to retrieve items such as

Jeff Wicks of Netcare 911 said the person who was burnt on his arms was
injured as he fought the blaze. He was stabilised by paramedics and
transported to hospital.

Mlamuli Mtolo, one of the affected residents, said in the past 11 years
of living in the area, he has been a victim of fires at least three

“Every winter this happens, today there is fire here and soon the fire
will be at the settlement across the river,” said Mtolo.

“I woke up to find that the area had already been overwhelmed by the
fire, and I managed to rescue just a few belongings and the rest were
burned. Now I need to look for materials so I can rebuild my house and
have a place to sleep tonight,” he said.

Bheki Dladla, a community leader at the settlement, said it is high time
the city fulfills its mandate and builds houses for the people. “They
need to get rid of all the shacks here because this is a disaster
waiting to happen.”

Disaster Management chief John Gutridge said they were looking at
providing the materials such as food, tents and blankets to the many
people affected by the fire.